Exhausted today – and since I always write these blogs at midnight, this one will be short – and I will let pictures speak for me.  We are learning more and more about the women that our foundation is helping and their daily lives – and the huge impact culture has on their opportunities and livelihoods. We visited a cooking class, held at TALIM, where the women are taught how to cook and bake international dishes so they can expand their Moroccan menus to something more unique.

Rachma, lady in black, is the teacher, the ladies are making spanish li
Rachma, lady in black, is the teacher, the ladies are making spanish lingua

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There are some 3rd world challenges that you (or I) just don’t think about. For example, if you don’t know how to read or write, you can’t read the recipe or even take notes on the recipe. Most of the women taking these classes don’t really know how to monetize the skill and make it an income generating activity. In general, they are humble and shy to ask for money for anything they do like they don’t deserve it or it is a bad thing. They cook in the museum that has 40-50 visitors a day so they could easily sell what they cook, with some great Moroccan mint tea. One of the components of our project will be to help the foundation build a curriculum so the women can set up cooperatives or businesses to generate income. But again, here are some challenges to think through: it is not acceptable to pay interest, so credit is frowned upon, so we need to explore some islamic finance options; they can’t afford a refrigerator in the store, so they store everything at home and bring it back and forth between the shop, so very hard to scale and build supplies; they have no negotiating skills so the restaurants who want to buy their goods/pastries are buying them for ridiculously low prices and they won’t say No.

the oven
the oven
cutting pistachios by hand
cutting pistachios by hand

At times, I feel like we are the ruthless capitalists who always think about money – because there are so many opportunities to generate income that they so desperately need that may be obvious to us – but could be either new or culturally unacceptable to them. So, we are learning as much about them and from them, as they are from us. Their generosity is limitless, they clearly have so much less than we do, yet they are so welcoming, humble and appreciative. There really is something in their eyes that stops you and makes you think about how different people’s lives are – and how much we take for granted.

Next week, we will take a cooking class with them and make some Syrian dish that I can’t pronounce. #ibmcsc